Ghassemifar, M. Reza, Eckert, Judith J., Houghton, Franchesca D., Picton, Helen M., Leese, Henry J. and Fleming, Tom P.
Gene expression regulating epithelial intercellular junction biogenesis during human blastocyst development in vitro
Molecular Human Reproduction, 9, (5), . (doi:10.1093/molehr/gag033).
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We investigated gene expression associated with trophectoderm epithelial intercellular junction formation in single human embryos at different stages of cleavage using RT–PCR methods based upon magnetic bead separation of polyA+ RNA. Trophectoderm tight junction (TJ) and desmosome biogenesis contribute to intercellular sealing and tissue integrity, critical for vectorial transport and blastocoel cavity formation.
Expression of the various genes throughout human preimplantation development showed differing levels of sensitivity of detection; these genes included claudin-1, occludin (TM4+ and TM4 isoforms), ZO-1 (ZO-1+ and ZO-1– isoforms), ZO-2 and JAM (junction adhesion molecule), and the desmosome junction gene, DSC2 (desmocollin 2). Some transcripts appeared to be expressed throughout preimplantation development (claudin-1, JAM, occludin TM4+ and TM4, ZO-1- isoform) while others tended to be expressed preferentially in later cleavage and associated with blastocyst formation (ZO-2, ZO-1+ isoform, DSC-2), illustrating an expression pattern broadly similar to mouse cleavage stages. Human embryo transcript detection was significantly decreased when reverse transcription was performed in solid phase to generate a bead/cDNA transient library rather than after mRNA elution from beads.
Transcript detection tended to be positively correlated with embryo morphological grade using the solid phase method. In blastocysts, occludin TM4–, ZO-1+ and DSC2 transcripts were the most susceptible to failure of detection, indicative of low levels of expression which may impact on trophectoderm differentiation competence. Immunoconfocal microscopy analysis of selected adhesion and TJ proteins in human embryos indicated poor membrane assembly compared with mouse blastocysts, which may further affect embryo viability.
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